China domestic violence complaints soar 70 pct

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BEIJING, Nov 26 (Reuters) Domestic violence is widespread and on the rise in China, where complaints of abuse soared 70 per cent last year, state media said today, citing a women's advocacy group.

The All China Women's Federation received 50,000 complaints last year, and the ''number of cases (had increased) in recent years'', the China Daily quoted Jiang Yu'e, head of the group's rights and interests department, as saying.

''The increase indicates that domestic violence is widespread in China and women's awareness of safeguarding their rights and interests has been improved with reinforced publicity by relevant institutions,'' Jiang said.

Women in rural areas, especially those who had gone to work in cities, were particularly susceptible, Jiang said, citing a 2006 survey.

Some 11.6 per cent of rural women said they had ''fought with their husbands'' during the previous year, a proportion rising to 13.5 per cent for rural women working in cities.

''Female migrant workers are restricted in accessing legal assistance as they are constantly on the move,'' Jiang said, adding that divorce was often too costly for rural women.

Jiang said rising domestic abuse had also resulted in more women ''fighting violence with violence'', and pointed to a study of a provincial prison where about 46 per cent of 513 female inmates had been past victims.

''The women's services, police and government agencies have begun to make joint efforts to address the problem,'' Jiang said, but added that police and judicial authorities needed to do more to encourage women to speak out in China, where traditional ideas about keeping family problems private remained strong.

Reuters AK VP0715

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